We’re excited to announce that we have launched a new forum! 🎉
Forums are an important part of a lot of software projects and communities. They offer a place for communities to gather and talk about a project asynchronously. For some, they are more accessible and understandable than fast-moving chats and email threads. Because of this, we’ve kept our forums at the heart of Funkwhale-related discussions and communications.
Back when the project was starting to pick up, we decided upon Loomio as our forum software. This was due to Loomio’s polling tools, which helped us conduct community decision-making. But over the last few years the forums have grown more complex. People have sometimes found it a bit difficult to navigate and understand. The layout of topics and discoverability of threads is a bit lacking in Loomio compared to other forum software. Since we want the forums to be the center of community engagement, this is not ideal!
A few weeks ago, a user enquired about whether we’d considered alternatives to Loomio. They pointed out some areas where Loomio was lacking, such as a lack of social log in and poor post editing tools. Off the back of this discussion, we decided to take a look at what was out there.
When looking at alternative software, we had a few requirements:
- The software needed to be free and open source to keep in line with the project’s goals.
- It needed to be user-friendly and offer better navigation options than Loomio.
- It had to support a range of login methods to enable users to sign in how they want.
- It had to integrate well with our existing tools to make sure we weren’t duplicating efforts.
Discourse is a very well-known piece of software that many projects use day-to-day. It has a user-friendly interface, good layout options, and offers many prebuilt plugins. But when we looked at it we found a couple of issues with it. Discourse is quite a resource-intensive application, and can get quite slow. It is also written in Ruby, which nobody in the project is very familiar with. While neither of these issues would block a deployment, they could lead to issues later on.
Flarum, by comparison, is pretty lightweight. It also offers a pleasant user interface and simple tools, and has many prebuilt plugins. The biggest advantage of Flarum is that it is written in PHP.
A million developers cry out in pain.
All jokes aside, PHP is a very capable language and one that many people on the project have some experience with. Sticking to software written in familiar languages enables us to maintain and build upon our forums much more easily.
Once we’d picked our software, we decided to create a test instance for the community to check out. We set up some spaces to separate out content and test how the forum would look, then started posting content like normal.
The new forums contain more clearly separated topics. We now have dedicated topics for:
- Development: Conversations relating to bugs, new features, and other development topics.
- Support: A space for community members to ask each other for help and support.
- Music: A space to share music you’ve discovered or created on Funkwhale!
- Podcasts: A space to share cool podcast content with each other.
- Community: A place to hang out, introduce yourselves, and get to know one another.
Each of these topics has subtopics to help keep discussions navigable. We’re open to feedback about more topics/subtopics going forward, so please feel free to open up a discussion!
If you’re an existing user or just someone who wants to get involved, please come and join us. If you want to get more involved with the community, make a post in the introduction topic telling us a bit about yourself!
We are looking to add more language-specific topics for people who don’t speak English. Currently, we have German and French spaces set up. However, we need help maintaining and moderating these spaces as we don’t speak other languages fluently. If you’d like to volunteer to moderate a new language, open up a thread about it in the community topic!
We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there 👋